We just wrapped up our 3rd annual Summer Reading Rewards program at Grace Baptist Church. I have posted photos in the Photos section of the web site.

This year, a Christian owner of the local Baskin Robbins Ice Cream store donated around 200 certificates for free ice cream cones. So we called it the COOL Summer Reading Club! We change our theme and title every year. For 2009, it was "Catch the Reading Bug" (we had lots of buggy prizes), and 2008 was "Vote for Books" (election year).

For 2008 and 2009, we just had 4 year olds thru 6th grade participate, but after surveying our patrons, we found out that some teenagers were interested in participating, so we opened it up to anyone under 18. Readers can get credit for a book if they read it silently, out loud to someone else, or listen to a parent or sibling read to them. This encourages and enhances family time centered around Christian books, which is one of our goals. We also open up the program to any resident of our community, as a means of outreach.

Upstart had some very cute ice cream decorations - we bought a big ice cream cone "tracker" where kids' names can be written on individual scoops of ice cream, and mounted on the wall. (see Photo 6) We got permission to mount it in the main lobby of our worship center, which increased visibility and publicized our program much more than displaying it in our library.

For posters, we bought two photos from iStockPhoto.com - we wanted something clean and colorful showing kids enjoying books. Our church's graphics guy put together the poster for us (Photo 2) and these were mounted in a few key places around the church. We also created a "Sign-up Center" near the checkout counter, so that parents could fill out their names and their children's names and ages on a sheet to sign up, and then pick up a Reading Log (tracking their progress to win prizes) and a free book bag. Photo #1 shows the Poster for the Sign-up Center.

A creative volunteer decorated our library - photo 3 shows our children's area, # 4 the desk near the checkout counter, and # 5 shows our Raffle Ticket container.

Each summer that we have done our program, we have asked the kids to fill out a Ticket rating each book that they read (Didn't like, liked, loved) and print their name and phone number on it. The tickets all go into a large container that is decorated for the theme of the summer. Once a week we draw out tickets for our raffle prizes, which are donated by businesses - our local Ice Skating Arena donated free skating sessions, which fit in well with the "Cool" theme.

We had 152 kids and teenagers sign up this year. The theme was colorful and fun and attractive, and we simplified the prize structure from last year. A church librarian in our Southern California chapter of ECLA told us she did all of the prizes based on kids' checkOUTS, rather than checkINs. This made it so that families did not have to wait in line twice (first to check things out, then again to check things in to pick up prizes). She said that parents really appreciated that, and that it was understood that the books kids were checking out would be read and finished. She limited the number of checkouts to go toward her prize (also BR ice cream) at 3 per week (kids could read more than that, but only 3 could count toward ice cream). We did ours in a similar way. Doing it this way was simpler for our volunteers as well.

Our philosophy has been that we want as many "winners" as possible, so we do not choose to give a prize to only the reader who's read the most books, but just set a number of books to read and as many readers as can do it get a prize. This year we set it at 5, 10, 15 and 20 books for prize levels. Plus they have a chance to win a raffle prize, and a lot of them are just as thrilled to get that!

I'm looking forward to reading more posts about what others have done - it's always great to get new ideas!
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  • We feel the same way you do that everyone should be a winner and has an opportunity to do so by setting their own goals. We, too, give out prizes when they check out. It sounds like you have an enthusiastic support system. Thanks for your update.
  • Wow! That's really a COOL reading program! Thanks for sharing, Deanna!
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